Financial Planner vs. Financial Advisor vs. Financial Adviser – What’s in a Name?

apples_and_oranges_10_04_21_photo smDo you refer to yourself as a Financial Planner, Financial Advisor, or Financial Adviser?

Although you can find specific definitions attempting to differentiate these terms on some websites, within the industry and especially among the general public – your potential clients – they appear to be used interchangeably. However, this does not mean that they are equal.

From a marketing perspective, particularly in terms of SEO and search traffic, there are considerable differences.

Keyword Research on Google Adwords reveals that “advisor” is searched for more than 17 times as often as “adviser” and almost 3 times as often as “planner”.

Financial SEO Keyword Research

Searches: per month in the U.S.

Competition: How difficult they are to rank for. Although you can’t see it from this chart, each is measured on a 0.0 to 1 scale, with one being very competitive (you can see the actual scale by downloading the research to Excel). These terms are all highly competitive – hard to rank for – with little difference between them (they range from .95-.98).

Bid: The estimated cost of a successful Pay Per Click bid in Adwords. Also, as it tends to be a very efficient market, it can sometimes be useful in determining the markets value on a keyword. For example, based on the extreme difference here, my guess is that “financial advisor” searches convert at a higher rate than “financial adviser”.

Search Results

In searching each of your keywords, you get an idea of what Google believes (based on search and click-through history of that word) what the searchers intent is (i.e. are they looking for an advisor or information) when searching that term.

Each of the four terms in our list bring up some informational entries (Wikipedia, etc.), and “how to” articles, but “Financial Planner” and “Financial Advisor” return more listings of actual advisors. In addition, Financial Planner, Financial Advisor, and Financial Planning all bring up the “local” results (Google Maps), while Financial Adviser does not.

local search results for Financial Planning


As “Financial Advisor” is searched far more often than the other terms, displays Google “Local” results, and is essentially equally competitive to the other terms, I would recommend optimizing for “Advisor” over the other options. However, if for some reason you choose not to optimize for “Advisor”, I would avoid “Adviser” – far fewer searches, does not include “local” results, equally (or slightly more) competitive, and Google has determined that searchers using that phrase are not usually looking for advisor services.

Thanks for reading! As always, your comments and questions are both welcomed and appreciated.

Learn about our Financial Advisor SEO services

Related Reading:

Seasonal Search Trends for Financial Advisors

Computer vs. Mobile Search for Financial Advisors

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Top 10 SEO Blogs of 2014

“Google My Business” Vs. “Google+ Page” – What’s the Difference?

SEO is the Key to Today’s “Yellow Pages”

3 Ways for Advisors to Appear in Google Search Results

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Brent is a REALTOR with Keller Williams in Henderson (Las Vegas valley) NV. He has a background in digital marketing and is a nationally recognized SEO expert. In addition to this blog, he is a VIP contributor to Search Engine Journal and has been syndicated through SteamFeed, Social Media Today and B2C.
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